Need for ag grads outplaces supply

Brownwood Bulletin
Scott Anderson

Most of the need for graduates will be in business and management, followed by science and engineering. Students graduating from college with a degree in agricultural programs are facing a bull market with employer demand outpacing supply. A report released earlier this month by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University shows U.S. college graduates can expect approximately 59,400 job opportunities annually between 2020 and 2025. This reflects 2.6% growth from the previous five years. Employer demand will exceed graduate supply for graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture-related fields.

This report shows that students across America who are studying food, agriculture and related sciences to take on these challenges have made a sound career choice and will graduate into a strong and growing job market in the years ahead, acting director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The preparation of the report began before the coronavirus pandemic when global socio-economic conditions looked much differently than they do at the release of this report.

It was extremely challenging to project the success and perseverance of current college students, let alone the employment opportunities that await new graduates during a global pandemic. Regardless, the project team confidently concludes that the need for graduates and employment opportunities in agricultural fields will remain strong and steady.

Graduates earning degrees with emphasis in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and the environment (FARNRE) will account for 61% of the annual supply pool. Most of the

employment opportunities will be in business and management at 42% and another 31% in science and engineering. Openings anticipated in education, communication and government will make up 14%, and 13% will be in food and biomaterials production with nearly 92% of those jobs going to FARNRE majors.

Diversity and inclusiveness are strategic for the future workforce. For the food, agriculture, renewable resources, and environment sector to fully address the needs of the United States, it must reflect the population it services.

A more diverse and inclusive workforce will support a more innovative and creative agricultural industry for the future.

Other highlights of the report include:

· Over the past two decades and across all levels of degree attainment, more females than males have graduated in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment.

· Some majors tend to attract a greater proportion of female students, including animal sciences, agricultural education, agricultural communication and veterinary medicine.

· Other majors tend to attract more male students, including agricultural engineering, forestry, agronomy and crop science.

· There will be a strong demand for graduates with expertise in data science across all disciplines.

· Expect to see strong employment for specialists in marketing, e-commerce, field technical service, water quality and environment, climate and invasive species, food technology, and environmental and rural policy.


The sight of cattle feeding on green oak leaves or acorns should be a warning sign for producers, signaling not only a potential threat to an animal’s health, but also a reminder to practice better pasture and feed management.

In the Southern Plains states, tannic acid poisoning in cattle that consume too many green oak leaves or acorns is not a frequently raised issue, mainly because the livestock don’t find them all that palatable and will generally only eat them if other resources are not available. The problem can be largely avoided by ensuring cattle have access to good grazing and supplemental feed.

Studies show livestock are more likely to consume green leaves as opposed to dried leaves. Most livestock are susceptible to tannic acid toxicity, but cattle and sheep are most often affected. Clinical signs of illness typically do not appear until several days after gorging. Producers who notice downed oak tree limbs in pastures where cattle exhibit severe depression, lack of appetite, emaciation, serious nasal discharge and constipation followed by diarrhea need to contact a veterinarian immediately.

Calcium hydroxide comprising 10% of the ration may be used as a preventive measure if exposure to downed oak limbs with green leaves or acorns cannot be avoided, but the timing must be just right. A better option is to keep a watchful eye out and provide enough hay if adequate grazing resources are not available, thereby reducing the likelihood of cattle wanting to eat oak leaves or acorns.

Calves and yearlings seem to be affected more often than mature cattle. An adult would have to consume more acorns or leaves to receive the same